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The Code Monkey – Devaluing Software Developers

Code Monkey

Note: Opinion. This is something I’ve noticed/perceived in all positions I’ve held.

Of course no one is paid enough money. Boo hoo, we all want more money. Although that is a nicely objective way to value employees, that’s not what this is about.

This is about how software developers are perceived by (most) management. If a manager has a software developer and a project manager under them and they get conflicting reports/opinions from the two people, they will always go with the project manager. Management typically looks at a developer as an overly technical person, unable to understand client and business needs. So when a developer goes for a management position, they are shot down because they are “too technical”. (When someone gets turned down for a position in an IT organization because they are too technical, something is clearly wrong.) The perception of management is clear. PMs get the attention and typically the praise. PM ideas are seen as coming from a position that’s higher level because a developer works in the nitty gritty and doesn’t think in terms of high level.

A software developer ideally understands the client and business needs just as well as the PM. Given that’s an ideal, but that’s what makes a good developer good. Often the reason a project turns out bad is the developer wasn’t made aware of why they’re doing what they’re doing. (Sometimes that’s because it hasn’t been thought about on a high level — no one really knows why.)

The truth of it is software developers come in good and bad the same as project managers. Some are really good and some are totally not. The problem is most management don’t bother to get to know their employees, so they don’t know who is good and who is bad so they make generalizations based on role. That’s bad.

Of course you can now say I’m making a generalization about management in the same way. And you’re right.

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